Tamar Gendler awarded Yale College-Sidonie Miskimin Prize for Excellence in the Humanities

April 24, 2013

Congratulations to Tamar Gendler, who is the 2013 recipient of the Yale College-Sidonie Miskimin Prize for Excellence in the Humanities, one of the university’s highest distinctions recognizing excellence in undergraduate teaching. Gendler’s Philosophy and the Science of Human Nature attracted around 300 students last year and is available online here as part of Yale’s Open Courses initiative. In an interview, Gendler says that what she hopes her students will learn from her “is that there’s a great written textual tradition that raises questions that still matter to our lives today.” In her teaching, she continues, “I try to pair the kind of texts you might read in a program like Directed Studies — works by people like Plato and Aristotle — with contemporary explorations of exactly the same sort of questions. What I want students to remember when they leave Yale is that it’s just a coincidence that they happen to be living at the same moment in time as the people with whom they currently share the planet, and that there’s a possibility that the person who has the most to say about the question that interests them actually inhabited the planet some time prior to them, perhaps some distance from them. I want to give my students the skills to approach texts that seem difficult in a way that lets them become accessible, through a kind of careful and close and serious attempt to engage in someone else’s perception of the way the world is.”